The tiny European island country of Malta had been on our bucket list forever. We didn’t really know much about it other than it is a microstate, that it is an archipelago and that Maltese is an unusual language for a European country.
Last year we were lucky enough to visit this truly breathtaking place. Here is what we learned about this tiny country from our trip:
The Maltese archipelago is made up of three islands
They are Malta, Gozo and Comino. We visited Malta and Gozo. The third island of Comino is the smallest and it has only three residents. A policeman and a priest visit Comino regularly to provide services to this very tiny population. Next time we come to this archipelago, we will make a point to visit Comino in order to see its bird sanctuary and nature preserve.
You drive on the left
Not only do you drive on the left but also most roads are very narrow and meander through the countryside. This was a big yikes for me, but not a problem for my UK-born husband.
Everyone speaks English
Malta is a former British colony and because of that everyone speaks English as well as Maltese. You’ll have no problem communicating on this beautiful archipelago.
Almost every piece of available land is farmed
Being a tiny country with a Mediterranean climate and limited land, you will notice that almost every available piece of land, no matter how small, is used for a kitchen garden or a small farming operation.
Seven millennia of history
Malta has seven millennia of turbulent history. Because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean, it has been ruled by every power imaginable which happened to be wreaking havoc in the region at any given time. And thanks to all that history, you can find three UNESCO sites in Malta.
Food & Drink in Malta
Of course, you must try Maltese food. Some say that Stuffat tal-Fenek (rabbit stew) is Malta’s national dish. Whether that is true or not, you should give it a try. Another popular dish is Lampuki (fish pie). Don’t forget to also try traditional Maltese bread and Gbejniet, a goat or sheep cheese. Malta even makes its own wine that’s won prizes on the international level.
Religion & Language
Religion is a very important part of Maltese life. Most Maltese are Roman Catholic. And the Maltese language has Afro-Asian roots and is derived from an old form of Arabic. What makes it unique among Semitic languages is its large influence by both Italian and Sicilian languages (yes, there actually is a Sicilian language).
When to visit
If you don’t like crowds or extreme heat, don’t visit Malta in the summer. Spring or fall are milder and more pleasant. And you can actually find a spot on the beach.
Game of Thrones
The city of Mdina on Malta was a filming location for several places on Game of Thrones. We are suckers for this show and so far, we have visited four filming locations in the last two years. Yes, we are hard core!
I could go on and on. Instead, see our photo essay showcasing the beauty of the island of Malta.
Did we tempt you to visit Malta yet? Or have you been? We welcome comments below.
Narak iktar tard!
For posts I wrote on other tiny countries we’ve visited, see the following: